Extending emotion and decision-making beyond the laboratory: The promise of palliative care contexts

Emotion. 2016 Aug;16(5):581-6. doi: 10.1037/emo0000175. Epub 2016 Mar 28.


Although laboratory-based research on emotion and decision-making holds the distinct advantage of rigorous experimental control conditions that allow causal inferences, the question of how findings in a laboratory generalize to real-world settings remains. Identifying ecologically valid, real-world opportunities to extend laboratory findings is a valuable means of advancing this field. Palliative care-or care intended to provide relief from serious illness and aging-related complications during treatment or at the end of life-provides a particularly rich opportunity for such work. Here, we present an overview of palliative care, summarize existing research on emotion and palliative care decision-making, highlight challenges associated with conducting such research, outline examples of collaborative projects leveraging palliative care as a context for generating fundamental knowledge about emotion and decision-making, and describe the resources and collaborations necessary to conduct this type of research. In sum, palliative care holds unique promise as an emotionally laden context in which to answer fundamental questions about emotion and decision-making that extends our theoretical understanding of the role of emotion in high-stakes decision-making while simultaneously generating knowledge that can improve palliative care implementation. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Decision Making*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / psychology*